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Bite The Bullet

Don't Mess With Texas (2002-12-17)

The RedWolf, Q Project, and FPS Booth That's a quote I hear often but embarrassingly enough, I had never been to Texas myself so the term always seemed a cliché for me.  Operation Reindeer Games held on December 6 - 7th in Maypearl, Texas, presented an opportunity I could not refuse to see first hand how airsoft is played in the Lone Star state.  The flight from Hong Kong totaled a mere 19 hours, including transfer in San Francisco.  I had always figured that given how far south Texas was, the weather would be pleasantly warm for optimal playing conditions.  I was dead wrong - and dead I nearly was had I not brought along extra clothing for my next stop in my home town - New York City.


The booth was an onsite store Do they reallly sell Bud beer in the middle east?

Arriving at Dallas Fort Worth International Airport (DFW) on Thursday, December 5th, we were greeted by Rick Thurman of the Gaziger Scouts - a team that I had read about in the second issue of FPS magazine.  Maypearl is actually located about an hour's drive away from DFW and during the drive, it struck me how wide and flat Texas was - being able to see where the sky met the land was quite a pleasant change from the vertical and cramped skyscrapers of Hong Kong.  Needless to say, the air was also amazingly fresh.


Map of the playing area The booth was literally an onsite store!

With over 140 players registered, the event promised to be an exciting one.  The organizers had taken great pains to prepare sufficiently for the event, and had arranged for several surprises (more on that later) that would make Operation Reindeer Games more of a mil-sim operation that just a weekend skirmish.

The event was hosted on private property with rolling meadows and a wide low-slung tree line.  Free caps for anyone who attended.  Note FPS mag 3rd edition on top of caps! Player registration started bright and early! Bushes and scrubs were ample to provide cover, as were the occasional mountains of haystacks.  There were also quite a few large fields where if you were caught in the middle of it, very little cover was afforded within running distance.  The best strategy in this case would be to simply drop down flat and hope for the best.  The playing area covered several adjoining fields separated by trees in most cases.  Several wooden structures and bodies of water were also scattered throughout to add diversity.

  Get a load of this! You can't see can't see me!

Even before the game started did drama ensue.  One of the game organizers was taken into custody the night we had arrived for questioning by the FBI.  Apparently, the clerk at the local photocopy store were alarmed by the request to make copies of Op instructions, which included touched up photos of event organizers and vendors in middle-eastern attire and scruffy facial hair.  Suspecting a major international incident was about occur, the clerk called the Feds and landed our man in the interrogation room for several hours.  The misunderstanding was cleared up shortly and all that followed were jokes and chuckles. I was later told the FBI was very professional and very polite about the whole matter, despite their towering 6' 6" profiles.

  A serious prop!

The theme of the event pitted 2 teams against each other: OpFor in desert camouflage and middle-eastern garb versus BlueFor in woodland camouflage.  Three games were scheduled for the main day of the event - a morning, afternoon, ending with a night game.  Many props were available to make the event more realistic, and many thanks goes to Duckman for making an authentic nuclear suitcase complete with booby trap and countdown timer, a infrared missile launcher, and various smoke grenade devices.  Listen up folks for the briefing! Duckman even built a model M134 Vulcan from common household materials.  The resulting model was so realistic that from 5 feet away, it looked like the real thing!  I felt the nuclear suitcase was the most exciting - with its LED readouts and numerous wires, opposing teams had to deactivate it during one of the games.  The count-down LED also added an aspect of terror to anyone who saw this device.  Connected to some gunpowder in a large plastic bin, this "nuke" would set off a huge sonic blast if tampered with.  Little did the poor players know that defusing would be a huge challenge, requiring shorting two wires to bypass the booby trap before access to the main circuitry is gained - and then cutting another 2 wires out of 10 identical looking black wires, ending with holding down a button for 45 minutes.  This was one serious bomb.

  I am ready sir!

Another interesting contraption was the infrared missile launcher with built-in infrared device that you aimed at a receptacle unit armed with a strobe light.  To set off the receptacle unit (the bomb), you needed to shoulder and aim the launcher, press a button to fire.  If the strobe went off, that meant you nailed it.  I tried it and it proved to be a precision product - even a one inch deviance meant the difference between a hit or miss. Very creative indeed Duckman!

  The Q is consulted on a broken gun

Many sponsoring vendors were on hand to show their support for the game.  As in previous US operations, RedWolf Airsoft was on location with our partner, The Q Project (based in California) to support the players.  Free baseball caps were once again available for all who attended.  FPS magazine was also on location to report on the event and to premiere their third edition, which sports some interesting articles, more great pictures, and improved layout.

  The OpFor team poses for the camera before executing hostage

The most exciting part of the event was undoubtedly the kickoff, which required the OpFor and BlueFor teams to man their respective starting points.  Courtesy of organizer Greg Spangle, a L39ZA fighter jet was arranged to fly over the players to officially kick off the game. Jet does low fly-by - sonic boom raises hair on our necks!   I for one have never seen a fighter jet this up close and as we (the OpFor team) posed playfully with our AK47's trained on our "hostage", the sonic boom from the jet (capable of Mach 0.95) raised our heads in awe.  Signaling the pilot with an orange smoke grenade, the jet made several turns looking for us before finally locking our position to perform a total of four flyovers.  Altitude was amazingly low at several hundred feet - or close enough that you could see the decals on the planes fuselage.  Each time the jet would make several rolls upwards into the sky after a flyby ... very cool indeed.  With guns firing into the sky, the OpFor group began the game and ran off into the tree line.  Along with my fellow vendors who were not wearing any protective eyewear and donned in clumsy (yet authentic) middle-eastern garb, we retired back to the staging area.

  Oh yeah...hand that baby over here! RWC AK Sniper is donated by RedWolf Airsoft

A raffle event was held during the lunch break and RedWolf Airsoft gave away a RedWolf Custom AK Sniper upgraded to the max to lucky winner Dustin as pictured here. Our AK Sniper was fully upgraded to 500fps with Tasco scope, bipod, and custom stocks.


Watching from afar, the opposing teams decked it out in full force with smoke grenades and exploding bombs. Dustin is the lucky winner! Not content to have flown 10,000 miles to not get a single shot off, I joined the OpFor in the afternoon game.  Organizer Greg Spangle tossed several of us into the back of his pickup truck and we were off to the insertion point.  Arriving a little early at the point of the final showdown - an old house with windows shot out and doors hanging off their creaky hinges - we camped out behind haystacks and waited for the opposing BlueFor to arrive.  Actually quite pleasant with warm afternoon temperatures and a light breeze, I was actually beginning to enjoy myself. The quiet before the storm   That, as it turned out, was the quiet before the storm.  All was quiet for about half and hour before we started hearing gunfire beyond the tree line, and then we witnessed retreating OpFor members running towards us.  We turned back to greet them but not before one of the OpFor members shot Mike Pentrack, editor of FPS magazine, squarely in the back.  Dressed in a blue jacket, it turned out that they had mistaken Mike for a BlueFor U.N. member, when he was really an OpFor member.


As the BlueFor numbers grew around us, the front line was pushed further and further back towards the shack.  Smoke them out! With the heavily outnumbered OpFor members dropping like flies, I held the front line down with another OpFor member as more than 40 BlueFor troopers in woodland camo closed in on our position.  Hiding behind a skinny tree with obviously no chance of winning against them, I heard my team mate yell that he was out of batteries and out of BBs.  BlueFor troopers minutes before over-running house At that point, I decided to make my run of death and ran out into the middle of the field, firing non-stop.  With my trigger finger pulled and locked, I kept my left hand on the auto-winding DFW magazine to keep feeding the BBs.  Spraying left and right, I tried to cover a 180 degree field of vision in a feeble attempt to send the BlueFor troops retreating (not going to happen).  This lasted for about half a minute and I estimate getting about six to seven players before getting nailed myself in the head.  It was all in good fun!


Retreating back to the shack, the game was temporarily stopped when an angry farmer declared that we were trespassing on his property and demanded that we leave immediately.  There is no escape - I can't even see! It turned out that the demarcation of property was not apparent and some of the players had strolled onto his part of land unknowingly.  Quickly corrected, we continued the battle as the OpFor team bunkered into the shack while BlueFor members attacked in full force with smoke grenades and all.  Having given up, I watched this spectacular scene from about 100 feet way.  Guns blazing and people screaming - I thought to myself this actually felt quite real.  Unknown to myself at the time, a wide grin had crossed my face.  Pity my poor OpFor team-mates.  We didn't stand a chance.


The alien Venom gun

Ending the day was a demonstration by Pipers Precision Products.  Some of you may already have read the report on the M134 Minigun co-developed by PPP and The Q Project.  PPP has not been idle and has come up with a couple more interesting products - the Venom SMG and the Straffer.  The Venom as you see here is essentially a mini-gun in a portable package.  The rotating barrels are powered by a battery, which is installed in the stock, while compressed gas is used to fire the BBs out at amazing rates.  Fireworks anyone? Staff from PPP demonstrated this weapon on an old oil can and the results were frightening.  Finished in highly polished chrome, this gun is a real looker. 

Another interesting item was the Straffer, which was demonstrated in the black of the night.  Fitted with a tracer unit, the Straffer is capable of shooting well over 100 BBs per second high into the dark Texas sky.  The effect was similar to fireworks and the crowd watched in awe as many of these glowing BBs came back down at us seconds later, hitting us on our heads and into our gaping mouths.


The war goes on in our ravaged Lone Star state!

Personally I had a terrific time at Operation Reindeer Games and I look forward to attending another event in the Lone Star state in the not-too-distant-future.  On behalf of RedWolf Airsoft, I would like to extend our thanks to the organizers of this event for running such an outstanding show.  Special thanks to Greg Spangle and Scott Cotton for making us feel especially welcome.

For more pictures and information on Operation Reindeer Games, visit the Airsoft Retreat Forums.

If you attended the event and have stories to share, share them in our forums.